Now the weekend is here there seems to be a bit of time to breathe, and perhaps time to get down to a rather longer letter which will, in all probability, be done in stages.
I have just been re-reading your very sweet letter which I didn’t get until I got back on Sunday night. That, too, has gone on one side to be saved and read and re-read in the future when I want to get a taste of the atmosphere of “the dear dead days” as you call them. I have to pick and choose your letters so carefully because of the little space I have for keeping anything in any real privacy. Thank you once again for that letter and, too, for the 10/- which I know must represent very real sacrifice by you and which, as you know now, I put to the best use in the world for it helped me to come back to you, if only for an all-too short time. But, oh sweet, it was so nice to hold you in my arms again. I meant to say so many things to you which somehow I never managed to say, although there were some things I did remember to tell you. Perhaps one day, or rather evening, we will sit down and do together what you did in your letter – go back over the milestones of the last eight years. One of the things I’m looking forward to is coming home for good and having an unbroken stretch of nights before us when we can sit down and natter together over all sorts of things – the little things which lie half-forgotten in our minds, the various milestones in our lives, the children, how they are progressing and our hopes and fears for them. And by then you will laugh at Michael’s fits of naughtiness and the way we have worried about him. Ah well, those days have to come but they are nice to look forward to. Let’s hope that they really will come and come more quickly than either of us think just now and, too, let’s hope they will bring with them a far greater sense of real security for ourselves and for the children than we have ever known yet. If only we can be sure of their future not containing a repetition of all this nonsense.
Now to answer some of the points in your letters which I don’t seem to have had time to deal with. By all means wear the stockings. There’s no point in leaving them. It’s my fault, not yours, that they were never sent. If you think they are worth all that much, why not (a) save them for gala occasions when I can appreciate your silken calf and thigh, or (b) do a deal with someone and get two pairs of more serviceable stockings of your own size? Anyway, make use of them. Don’t just leave them there.
Now there is one thing I have not said in my letters and a thing which I meant to say in my first letter after coming back. That is how much I appreciated the fact that you had not cried after I had gone. I know, without conceit, that it hurts you for me to have to leave you, but the thought of you in tears upsets me beyond words and I’m so glad to think you are gradually hardening your heart, as I am mine, to these inevitable separations. For the first couple of days at Skegness I went miserable through and through when I thought of how hardly you were taking our separation. That is not a censure, love, but no man likes to think of his wife all miserable at home while he is caught up in all the clanging whirl of the transformations into a “number in line”. As you know, I wouldn’t expect you to jump with joy at the idea of being rid of me for some weeks or months, but no one can ever escape the feeling of being personally responsible for the misery of their women folk. You were marvellous, love, and I felt proud of you, especially when I came back the second time and caught you on the hop. I had the wild idea of carrying you off to bed and slipping a quick one across you, but I thought that would be anti-climax and I’m more than glad now that I didn’t for it would have spoiled a marvellous day. Just wait till I get that 7 days. I’m not changing into civvies and catching cold this time – or ever again! What a pity, angel, that you did not stay awake all night last Saturday. If you had wakened me again about 4 or 5 my quiver might have been full again!
Rees seems to have charged you fairly reasonably, although if you work it out it comes to nearly 5/- a visit. Which isn’t bad going when all is said and done. Medicine you can discount. The whole eight bottles wouldn’t cost 1/- and that is on doctors’ own arguments at a private meeting I was once at in Arthur Jones’s office! I hope your claim is granted. Let me know how you go on.
Yes, I know about Morris [??] going. Dave told me on the way down and added that he had – or was going to, I’m not sure which – applied for the house. With all due respects, I hope he doesn’t get it! Anyway, if Mother does cut up rough, there’s an answer ready made. If Dave gets it, he was in first. If he doesn’t, even he has no influence. It’s in the bag!
Glad to hear of all your discoveries in the drawers. And talking of drawers, I’ve got an order in with one of the lads to try to get some shorts for me. If I get them I’ll send them on for you and you can sew them up to keep the draught out!
It’s now Sunday morning and I have been unfaithful to the Methodist J.C. by going and worshipping(!) the C. of E. J.C. because that gives me more leisure. Isn’t it nonsense? And I have been using that leisure in a very satisfactory way. I have been reading a very delightful letter you wrote me – the last I ever got from you at Skegness. How long ago that seems, my love. But what a lovely letter that was and I can remember now, oh so clearly, how I revelled in that letter. In it you recalled the days at the ‘B.T.’ and how formal we were to each other in the first days. I was never really conscious of an air of formality, for my first memories of that time concern the way Ronnie and Norman and Philip used to pull your leg about being Freddie’s lady now; and then there were also life-like imitations of Pluto! Remember? And remember the way we used to curse you for being a lazy beggar and not helping with making the tea? Even the mention of tea at the ‘B.T.’ brings back a lot of memories: you fastened in with Freddie, Arthur Smith always coming in in the middle of tea, the inevitable rolls with Heinz sandwich spread and the particular kind of meat pie I used to have every week. There was, too, the peculiar spirit smell from the Primus under the table. That is one side of life at the ‘B.T.’ which has its own particular delights, but best of all I like the other side – the memories of the later days and nights. Particularly the nights when perhaps I was working late after the Council and you would come in and we would have a few minutes together. Or the Thursday nights when everyone but Freddie had gone and with him safely(?) on one side of the partition we would be on the other, with Mary welcoming John for an all-too brief meeting! I can even now feel the touch of the lace on the edge of those French knickers so ruthlessly pushed aside. And, as you said recently, what a row if you wanted to wear anything other than French knickers! There were, too, the nights when, after I had left or been thrown out of the ‘B.T.’, I used to prowl from dance to dance looking for you. This period, of course, includes the famous night to which you have referred. The night I came up to that Litherland dance and carried you off from Norman Jones. Wasn’t that the night that we went to Joe Benson’s after hours?
You know, I have never been conscious of being bitter towards you, even in those days of deep disappointment. You were, even then, my one comfort and I’m sorry if you thought I was treating you as filling a daily physical need. I wonder what would have happened to me if you had gone through with your intention of giving me up. That would have been the last straw just at that time but, jolt that it would have been, I doubt if you would have been allowed to get away with it. I would have pestered the life out of you, even if I had had to forget my dignity so far as to make love to you! Oh, sweetheart, just think what might have happened that night if I hadn’t had the sense to talk sensibly to you. Never mind, I did do the right thing, even not knowing how close to the brink I was. I’m sorry I caused you so much unhappiness then, but I have never wilfully hurt you, have I? Even when you were really miserable at Alexandra Road, I never realised how unhappy you were or I would have done something about it, as you know.
Oh, angel, I do love you, and even to think of you having been unhappy in the past hurts me. Perhaps because of that time and our present period of separation we will be able to settle down to years of smug “sweet con” when this war is over. It won’t be my fault if we cannot.
Now, precious, much as I love you, I will have to leave you to write to that confounded child of yours! Tell Wendy why there is only one letter. I think it would be unwise to write telling Michael off and, at the same time, to write a chatty letter to Wendy. The distinction would be too sharp-drawn. I don’t think I will suggest it to Michael, but you can if you like, that if he really means to mend his ways he can write and tell me so.
So the little red box is in the right-hand side of the middle drawer? OK, I’ll bet I can put my hand right on it when the time comes, as come it will, and so will I! Wow! And will I make your muscles stiff again? Just you wait, young woman. I hope, by the way, that the solubles did sol! Let me know if vapours are late, won’t you? I’ll be looking a bit anxiously for that V sign after that experiment. Some of the married men, by the way, swear on the reliability of Rendells, so we might try them next time if I can get them. Still, we have enough in hand for the moment.
Now I really must leave you, pet. Bye for now. All my love, angel, and take care of yourself. I do love you so much and am full of impatience now for the end of October.
All my love, sweetheart.
Ever your own,
P.S. I have finished Michael’s homily. Read it first and see if you think it is the right line to take. If there are any points you want to interpolate, do so by all means. I only hope it is simple enough for him to follow. Let me know what his reactions are and, if you get a chance of reading it to him without an audience in the form of Wendy, so much the better. I don’t like the idea of a third party being present at a telling off. It might ruin the whole atmosphere.